American farmers are supposed to make a living raising and marketing crops and livestock, and many full-time farmers are very good at doing just that. They are also effective at obtaining income through the generosity of their elected representatives at the expense of taxpayers. The main farm subsidy programs were introduced in the 1930s when many dirt-poor Dust Bowl farmers were in dire straits, as, of course, were many Depression-decimated families in the cities. Since the end of World War II, however, farmers and their families have substantially improved their absolute and relative economic stations. The average farm family currently earns substantially more income than the average nonfarm family and is much wealthier. Moreover, debt-to-asset ratios are far lower among family farm businesses than family-owned mainstreet businesses-or, for that matter, most large corporations-and have been much lower for most of the last thirty years.
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